3 Options for Selling a Salvaged Car With Title

Selling a salvaged car is totally legal and a perfect way to get some money from something junk. Given that your insurance company deems the car as a “total loss”, it’s better to get rid of it unless you have other plans, like collecting the parts or keeping it for your personal car collection.

There are some procedures to follow if you want to sell car for salvage. It can be time-consuming but having some patience will return financial reward. Doing everything by book will also help you to avoid legal problems.

When Does a Car Become Salvage?

Getting extensively damaged in a collision is the most common way for a car to earn a salvage title. However, several other circumstances too can make a car unfit for the roads.


An insurer has to declare a stolen vehicle as a “total loss” if it’s not retrieved within a certain period. The DMV will slap it with a salvage title if it’s found after that period.

Most states allow re-titling of these vehicles after passing state inspections. However, this whole process of re-titling is time-consuming and can be expensive sometimes.

Natural Reasons

Natural calamities, such as floods, windy conditions, or some similar disasters, can damage a vehicle to the point of earning a salvage title. If something like this happens, its repair expenses turn out to be much more than the cash value.

sell car for salvage
Cars destroyed in natural disasters can become salvaged. (Credit: U.S. National Archives)

Overall Age

A vehicle’s condition can deteriorate over time, especially if there has been negligence with the maintenance. If the car does not pass the state inspection, and the fixing work seems too expensive, the DMV may brand it with a salvage title.

Selling a Salvaged Car: How to Do It?

A salvage car is a damaged vehicle repairing which will cost over 75% of its actual cash value. The quickest way to get rid of it by selling it to the insurance company. But the settlement will be low since the insurer’s target is to make some profit by reselling the vehicle. You can make more money by selling to the end customer directly.

When a vehicle is deemed as a “total loss”, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues a salvage title to the car.

Can you sell a car with a salvage title? Yes, of course!

In fact, a salvage title gives the owner legal rights to sell that car. However, this title also means that you cannot drive this car on public roads.

Selling salvaged cars requires following some procedures. To learn them, follow these steps:

How to Sell a Salvage Car

If you refuse the settlement from the insurer, your first step should be going to the DMV in your area and getting a salvage certificate.

Then, you can repair the car if that seems to be a budget-friendly solution. You can get a new title for the car if it passes the DMV safety inspections after repairing. However, the salvage title will still be in its history and its resale value will still be much lower than a regular used car of the same model.

Nevertheless, a repaired car will be sold for a little more money than an un-repaired unit. So, it will be worthwhile if you can repair it by yourself or get it done from somewhere cheap.

Now, it’s time to sell the car. These are the options for selling a car with a salvage title:

a. Find a Private Buyer

Private buyers are your best bet for receiving the best offer for a salvaged car. The insurance premiums of such vehicles are high, but someone may want the car for their private collection. There are some websites where you can list salvaged vehicles and get offers from private buyers.

b. Sell It to a Dealer

The hassle-free way is to sell the car to a car dealership. Some dealerships will be interested if they deem the salvaged vehicle can be fixed. These dealerships sell the repaired vehicles at auctions. You can also put the car at auction after repairing it.


c. Choose a Scrapyard

Selling a salvaged car to a scrapyard could be your last option if the first two don’t work out. This is actually a good option if your car is beyond fixing. You won’t get much money but the scrapyard will haul the car away at its cost. It will also help you release the title from a lienholder if there is any. All you have to do is to give the company details, keys, and access to the car.


Selling a salvaged car is the best option if you want to make money from something useless. You should always look for a private buyer since this option will yield the most money. A junkyard is also a good option if the car is completely dilapidated.